Online Medical Records and Patient Privacy: Is Your Medical Data Secure?
Advances in technology have made it easier for medical facilities to manage and store data. Vendor Neutral Archive solutions and the convenience of cloud storage are changing the way that patient data is accessed.
While these advances provide many advantages that may improve patient care, there are also concerns about patient privacy and the security of online medical records.
Advantages of Using Online Medical Records
Efficiency and convenience are the primary benefits of online storage. Thanks to modern solutions for archiving patient data in a central storage database, medical facilities are improving the efficiency of their operations. It is much quicker to store digital files compared to managing physical patient files and medical images.
Providing access to medical records through an online database may also allow specialists to share and review files. Receiving multiple perspectives on a patient’s condition increases the chances of a successful treatment.
Online medical records are also more secure than physical files in a couple of important ways. Physical files can be lost, stolen, or damaged. With a complicated record system, it may take time for staff to find a missing file. The risk of losing an online medical record is minimal.
Depending on the solution that is used to store and manage the online records, backups are typically created each day. Some systems even store older versions of files, allowing staff to recreate existing files if the current files contain errors.
Potential Concerns of Using Online Medical Records
While the risk of losing online data is minimal, patients may have concerns over the privacy of their data. The two biggest concerns are data theft and the sales of patient information to third parties.
It is the responsibility of the facility to work with reliable data storage providers that utilize the latest security features. The protection of this data is a major focus for cloud storage companies and vendors that provide data storage systems. Due to the level of protection and the rarity of data security breaches, patients should not be concerned about data theft.
The other potential concern is the sale of data to third parties. Healthcare facilities cannot sell patient data to other groups or marketing companies without the patient’s permission.
There are groups that can legally obtain patient data. Research groups and government agencies may use patient information for research. However, the names of the patients must remain confidential.
Government agencies and insurance companies may also need access to patient information. Insurance companies need data to verify claims while the government may require patient information to verify disability or Social Security claims.
Should Facilities Continue to Use Online Records?
Sharing online records allows doctors and healthcare facilities to consult before developing a treatment plan, ensuring that patients receive the best care. This also improves the efficiency of operations in most facilities.
There are no real drawbacks to using online solutions for archiving and managing patient data. While some may have concerns about patient privacy, the loss, theft, or sale of patient information is incredibly rare. The advantages of online records outweigh the minimal risks, which are no greater than the risks associated with physical patient files.